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Peter Levine, PhD, on how your furniture arrangement impacts clients. That's evidence-based design.

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

When treating clients with shame or trauma, how space is designed can make all the difference. Peter explains one simple change that practitioners can make to eliminate triggers of shame.

Let's take this one step further. What if your client is a veteran suffering from combat PTSD? Research indicates that certain design elements can both trigger or alleviate anxiety for these clients. Veterans are trained to survey their surroundings for threats. This deeply engrained hypervigilance can become a barrier to effective clinical treatment if your space if full of triggers.

The shape and placement of furnishings, materials, the type of art, color and lighting are all key design elements in creating an environment that supports the client. Incorporating elements of biophilic design and human-centric lighting are as important to clients as they are for the practitioner that spends long hours in this space.

And last but not least, visual noise (aka clutter) is never good. As someone that's spent my fair share of time in a therapist's chair, I can say that almost all of them housed volumes of books on overloaded shelves and mostly hand-me-down furniture.

Through the evolution of architecture and design in health care, what at one time was design focused on convenience and efficiency for doctors, has now advanced through evidence-based design, into integrative healing environments.

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